How to play lip bends on trumpet

by ReverbLxnd in Trumpet

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What are lip bends?

So what are lip bends? Let’s talk about what they are first, and the we’ll talk about why we do them and go from there.

A lip bend is basically playing the trumpet out of tune.

If you take a note, an open G for instance, and bring it down a half step to an Fsharp, you didn’t really bend if you used the natural series on the horn to make the half step — padding the second valve.

Everybody can play the second line G. So that means you should be able to try this now.

If you wanted to do that without padding the second valve, you’d have to bend it down with just the lips. That takes flexibility, and this technique is what is known as lip bending.

How to play lip bends on trumpet

Right off the jump, everybody should be able to try this.

A lot of people can probably lip bend a half note on the trumpet.

If there’s 10 people trying it for the first time, I think at least nine of those people can probably do that if they can form a good brass embouchure.

But is doesn’t stop there…

…most trumpeters will be able to lip bend a half note, but, it gets way harder as you widen the interval.

An open G to F natural and back to G in our earlier example, for instance. You play an F natural on the trumpet, from an open G, by padding down the first valve.

That’s two half notes — a full note interval.

Try the same thing but don’t use the valves.

Now, out of the 10 people that tried it earlier, I guessing that about seven would have gotten the F natural.

The another half step down and the next note would be an E. You get an E by padding down the first and second valves.

That’s a total of three half steps down.

Try that without the valves. This time I want you to try to do anything you can to bend the note. Try even pivoting the horn up or down or sideway.

We’re trying to bend the pitch down, everything is fair game. Our main concern is, we are not using the valves or the slides.

The only thing is it has to be one continous bend down and back up.

Out of the 10 people in the example we had earlier, about five will be able to lip bend an open G down to a to an E.

How far can we go?

We can lip bend an open G down to an E, or Eflat, or D, or Dflat but if we bend it to a C, that’s not really a lip bend. That’s just a lip slur.

As I mentioned before the further you widden that lip bend interval the more difficult it gets, but there’s a limit beyond which point it becomes a lip slur.

As you progress, lip bending does not get tough in a “brutish strength” kind of way, but tough from a technical artistic finesse kind of way.

It’s not about power, it about the flexibility that we talked about earlier.

Lip bending a second line G down to a Dflat is very, very, difficult. Again, not from brute strength, but from technical artistic finesse and flexibility point of view.

If you want to try this, a Dflat will be all the valves padded down.

Make sure you are not playing a low C.

If you are new to the trumpet, you will get it — if you get it — barely, by the skin of your teeth.

The moral of the story is you need to work on your flexibility to get good at lip bending.


I've been a musician and brought in my stuff for mixing and mastering, I've been my own producer where I wrote, recorded, mixed and sold my own stuff. Now, I'm *mostly* an audio engineer, where I only record and mix for clients. I'm currently based in Berlin, Germany, where I operate ReverbLand out of. Got a question? DM me on Instagram or Twitter @reverblxnd everywhere, or shoot me an email [email protected]. I'd love to hear from you.

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